The Consequences of Overeating

For many people, eating too much can lead to both physical and psychological consequences. Fortunately, there are various strategies that can help you avoid this unhealthy habit. Today, we'll tell you more about the consequences of overeating and how to avoid it.
The Consequences of Overeating
Florencia Villafañe

Written and verified by the nutritionist Florencia Villafañe.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

It’s likely that, at some point or another, you’ve eaten more than your share. Maybe because it was your favorite food, or because you were really hungry, or perhaps for some other reason. While doing so every once in a while isn’t a big issue, the health consequences of overeating repeatedly are numerous.

In this sense, when the guilt of excessive eating becomes constant, you may experience a variety of health problems. Not only will you gain weight, but you may also experience factors associated with your mood.

So, how can you keep this from happening?

We’ll offer some recommendations in the article below.

Is overeating a problem?

In general, the consequences of overeating occasionally are minimal and temporary. However, if the desire to eat becomes recurrent and out of control, then it will likely lead to several physical and mental consequences.

People who have a disproportionate appetite not only gain weight; they also begin to develop a negative perspective that can keep them from carrying about their day-to-day lives.

Possibles causes

There are many factors associated with a need to eat more than you should. As we’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t just happen when you’re eating your favorite meal. In fact, recurrent overeating usually doesn’t have anything to do with the food itself. Rather, it often has to do with constant stress or factors like going on a diet that’s too restrictive.

A man eating too much.

Also read: Low-Carb Diets, Intellectual Performance, and Emotions

The consequences of overeating

First of all, excessive eating can have physical consequences, like excess weight or obesity, although that’s not always the case. In many cases, the consequences can be psychological in nature. This is true both in individuals that are overweight as well as the rest of the population.

According to information published in The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, the psychological consequences of overeating may include the following:

  • Loss of control around food
  • Social isolation
  • Increased anxiety
  • A state of anxiety or suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment when participating in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Alteration in memory and concentration
  • Obsessions regarding food and nutrition
  • Sleep alterations
  • A decrease in work performance
A woman eating pastries as one of the consequences of overeating

Discover more: 8 Recommendations For Eating Healthy You’re Going to Love

Keys to help you avoid overeating

To avoid excessive eating, there are strategies that you can implement on a daily basis. However, you need to understand that they are mere interventions and shouldn’t substitute professional treatment. If you have excessive anxiety around eating, then you’d best consult with a doctor or specialist.

Identify your emotions

In order to identify the emotions that you’re experiencing, it also helps you deal with your problems. One idea is to start a journal and write about what you’re feeling. Besides distracting you from looking to food as a solution, it can also help you discover interesting things about yourself.

Avoid obsessing over food

When you notice yourself overeating, this isn’t the time to punish yourself. If you start to exclude foods that you like, then you probably won’t be able to keep it up for long. Rather, you’ll develop a strong desire to eat whatever it is you’ve eliminated from your diet.

This, at the same time, can come hand-in-hand with feelings of frustrations when you’re unable to meet your goal. As a result, you enter a vicious cycle that’s hard to get out of. Therefore, it’s always best to follow a healthy diet without going to extremes.

Exercise in a way that you enjoy

Several studies point out that some people exercise as in order to compensate when they overeat. In other words, for them, exercise is punishment for having eaten too much, and the only way to avoid gaining weight.

You should remember that physical exercise is healthy, but the goal shouldn’t just be about weight loss. You should exercise because it’s good for your wellbeing, and be careful not to exceed your physical capacities. If you’re not used to it, then begin gradually–between twenty and thirty minutes per day.

Stretch before you exercise.
Exercising on a regular basis can help reduce your anxiety regarding food. However, you should exercise for your wellbeing and not as a means of punishing yourself because you ate too much.

You may also want to read:Psychological Benefits of Physical Exercise

See a professional

While not everyone turns to a health professional when it comes to overeating, there are situations when you should. This is especially true when excessive eating has to do with emotional factors.

As explained in a study in the medical journal Current Psychiatry Reports , psychological therapy is useful in recognizing and correcting behaviors that lead to overeating. At the same time, it improves a person’s overall wellbeing.

The consequences of overeating: What to keep in mind

While overeating over a prolonged period of time can lead to weight gain, it can also cause other consequences as well. Therefore, it’s important to determine why it’s happening and identify associated factors as soon as possible. That way, you can choose adequate treatment in order to keep this problem from affecting your quality of life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Razzoli M, Pearson C, Crow S, Bartolomucci A. Stress, overeating, and obesity: Insights from human studies and preclinical models. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017;76(Pt A):154‐162. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.01.026
  • Ferrario CR. Food Addiction and Obesity. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017;42(1):361. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.221
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  • Síndrome de edorexia: evaluación y diagnóstico. salud pública de méxico. 2014. Disponible en:
  • Iacovino JM, Gredysa DM, Altman M, Wilfley DE. Psychological treatments for binge eating disorder. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2012;14(4):432‐446. doi:10.1007/s11920-012-0277-8

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.